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neurofeedback and anxiety

Neurofeedback Useful for Anxiety Treatment

Neurofeedback Useful for Anxiety Treatment 2560 1707 srtc_admin

Teens with anxiety disorders often struggle to determine the root cause of their anxiety when they experience symptoms consistently. In some cases, they may have a hard time differentiating between generalized anxiety and when their anxiety is escalating. As their body has been trained to remain on alert, anxiety treatments like neurofeedback can help teens retrain their brains to calm down when feeling overwhelmed.

What is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback is a computer-aided technique that impacts brainwave activity, resulting in significant changes across memory, cognition, and focus. This science-backed method is designed to train the most important organ in our body – the brain.

In a way, neurofeedback is like a video game or a form of exercise for the brain. By wearing a specially-designed helmet which tracks brain activity and a display for live feedback, teens can control different images using their brain. Teens can train their focus just as if they were training a muscle. The secret is getting the brain to produce the ‘right’ kind of waves. 

How Does Neurofeedback Work? 

Biofeedback instruments quantify how a child’s body reacts to certain stimuli. Like a form of exercise for the brain, students are hooked up to sensors that are tracking the behavior of the brain’s neural pathways while observing images on a screen, such as a movie or a video game. When the neural pathways are not functioning properly, the screen will get smaller and quieter. 

For example, the screen will get louder and brighter as the neural pathways are functioning well. video games used in neurofeedback won’t let a child progress unless she changes a behavior at the moment. As you repeat those trainings, the brain learns how to keep itself in that calmer place. You’ll still react to strong events, but you teach your brain to be calmer. Essentially, the brain is identifying positive and negative associations and working to repair pathways in order to have the most healthy experience. This teaches the brain how to regulate itself properly and helps students recognize when they are feeling anxious or distracted.

How Does Neurofeedback Help Reduce Anxiety?

Often, when people experience trauma, anxiety, or depression, the neural pathways in the brain have gotten confused along the way and are not functioning properly. Participating in neurofeedback sessions allows teens to see instant feedback about how their brain responds to different situations in real-time, which gives them more insight into what triggers their anxiety. When they recognize that the screen is becoming less clear, they may step back and reflect on what they are feeling in the moment or what may have changed about their experience. Watching the screen become more focused again gives them the feedback that whatever they did in between was effective in helping them feel more regulated. 

Neurofeedback is a noninvasive way to reprogram the brain and make lasting changes. It is particularly effective for teens who struggle with identifying anxious thoughts and being aware of how it affects their everyday life.

Neurofeedback in Residential Treatment

Every student receives 3-4 sessions per month of neurofeedback as part of our therapeutic programming. Each session will be accompanied by 3 brain mappings (data processed into a visual representation of brain wave patterns). 

Kami Black, MSW, LCSW, Executive Clinical Director at Solstice West, believes neurofeedback will provide an additional level of care for students. The goal of neurofeedback is not to entirely replace traditional forms of therapy, but instead allow the neural pathways in a student’s brain to integrate with other forms of therapy more effectively. “We’ve seen that students who receive neurofeedback typically have a shorter length of stay and many are able to decrease their use of medication,” said Black. “It’s an innovative and effective way to decrease issues like anxiety and depression.”

Solstice RTC Can Help

Solstice West RTC  is a residential treatment program for young girls ages 14-18 who struggle with issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and/or relationship struggles. This program provides three types of therapy: individual, group, and family therapy to allow girls to explore themselves in a variety of ways. Through groups on various topics, girls learn to become more aware of their emotions and to express them appropriately to others. Solstice Residential Treatment Center is dedicated to teaching young women how to incorporate healthy habits into their lives. Students will leave with the skills they need to transition into the world feeling confident, happy, and able to manage their emotions.

For more information about our how Solstice helps teen girls manage anxiety, call 866-278-3345. We can help your family today.

how does mindfulness reduce stress

How Does Mindfulness Reduce Stress? 7 Outcomes of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

How Does Mindfulness Reduce Stress? 7 Outcomes of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction 5956 3971 srtc_admin

In a 2014 national survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, 31 percent of adolescents aged 13 to 17 said that their stress increased in the previous year, and 42 percent said they were not doing enough to manage their stress. Many teens turn to external sources for support, such as friends, family, hobbies, or professionals, however they are less likely to turn inwards and look for their own insight. Mindfulness empowers individuals to use skills they already have to be more intentional about their interactions. When feeling overwhelmed, mindfulness can help reduce physiological symptoms of anxiety, identify sources of stress, break down tasks into simpler objectives, and set goals to achieve tasks without sacrificing mental health.

Mindfulness vs Meditation

“Mindfulness is not a magic panacea, it’s not going to fix everyone’s problems,” USC researcher Nicholas Barr claims, “But if you talk to anyone who has practiced for some time in a serious way, you just notice a difference.” Many people are unclear about what constitutes mindfulness. Meditation is seen as a practice of stillness and silent contemplation used in Buddhist and Yogic lineages, however mindfulness has been adapted to be integrated into aspects of everyday life. Mindfulness encourages you to be here now and to notice thoughts that arise throughout your day that either help you meet your goals or get in the way of doing what you want. We often go through life on autopilot without realizing how detached we are from our experiences. While it can be hard to step back and see the bigger picture, it is a reminder that everything we do affects the way we feel and the way we interact with our social environment.

The University of California – Berkeley, describes mindfulness as “a way of being aware of each moment in our feelings, thoughts, surrounding environment, and bodily sensations. It’s a way to pay attention to ourselves and not judge, but accept what’s going on.” General mindfulness lessons include paying attention, living in the moment, and practicing radical acceptance. Examples of exercises include body scans, walking, or a formal sitting meditation focusing on your breath and awareness of thoughts.

7 Outcomes of Mindfulness

 

  • Reduces negative emotions. Increases energy and mood while decreasing restlessness and overwhelming emotions. Lowers physiological stress responses.
  • Sets intentions. Focuses on defining and strengthening personal values and belief systems. Instead of setting achievable goals, breaks things down into how you approach those goals and their desired outcomes. Goals are then redefined towards personal development and self-actualization.
  • Builds self-esteem. Strengthening one’s belief system strengthens identity and confidence.
  • Builds compassion for self and empathy for others. One common technique known as loving-kindness meditation reduces suffering by acknowledging suffering in others and remembering that it is a universal experience. By focusing on the moment, it relieves responsibility of the past and pressure of future expectations and allows people to show themselves kindness in the moment.
  • Cultivates positive emotions. By focusing on cultivating positive intentions and healthy ways of relating to your social environment, mindfulness can increase levels of dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin while increasing alpha brain waves and neural connectivity. Mindfulness helps manifest self-regulation and pleasurable experiences.
  • Encourages openness to new experiences and ability to be present. Focuses finding a balance between grounding and receiving. Limits judgment and fear of experiences. Opens space for reflection and fully immersing yourself in your sensory experience.
  • Increases resiliency. Mindfulness practices are associated with recovery from substance use and trauma in redefining memories, reducing cravings, and making meaning of the healing process. People who experience chronic stress can learn skills to manage stressful situations and emotional responses when they arise.

Solstice can help

Solstice is a residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18. Our girls struggle with managing stress and related mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, ADHD and trauma, when they come to us. Through a unique combination of therapeutic programs based upon both traditional and holistic mental health treatment, we treat our clients with age and gender specific techniques. We offer mindfulness, yoga, physical activity, and neurofeedback to encourage students to be fully present in their experiences and deepen their connection between their mind and their body.

Chronic Stress in Teens: More Likely In Girls After Trauma

Chronic Stress in Teens: More Likely In Girls After Trauma 1280 853 Solstice RTC

As children grow into adults, it’s important to learn how to cope with adversity–it’s actually an essential skill to living a happy, healthy life. When something stressful happens, our body increases our body’s blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones. When this happens to an adolescent, it can either be a growing moment or something destructive–like chronic stress in teens.

Chronic stress in teens is usually triggered when the child in question didn’t have a proper support system surrounding them when the event happened and/or the stress response was long-lasting and intense. If a child that has experienced this level of trauma doesn’t receive treatment, it’s possible that the child could face lifelong consequences.

Research links chronic stress in teens to traumatic experiences

Many studies have linked traumatic experiences to chronic stress in teens. It’s incredibly hard to deny the evidence showing the impact of untreated trauma on teens–especially girls, according to research.

chronic stress in teensIn a recent study, it was found that gender was one of the largest predictors of whether a trauma would lead to “dysfunctional cognitions.” Girls were more likely than boys to experience PTSD symptoms after a trauma.

Other research has also confirmed this. In a study from Stanford University School of Medicine, it was shown that traumatic stress had a different effect on girls’ brains vs boys’ brains. It was one of the first studies to look into why girls were more likely to develop PTSD compared to boys.

The answer seems to have to do with the part of the brain called the insula–more specifically, the part inside of it called the anterior circular sulcus. This part was larger in the traumatized boys’ brains compared to untraumatized boys; and it was smaller in the traumatized girls’ brains compared to untraumatized girls.

This part of the brain usually changes during the adolescent years, growing smaller as they grow older–which suggests that the aging of the insula is accelerated by PTSD or chronic stress in teens. This runs along with other studies that have shown correlation between early puberty and high levels of stress in girls.

By understanding the gender differences of trauma, it allows us–the ones giving treatment–to provide better treatment to those struggling with the effects of trauma.

If you believe your daughter is struggling with a mental health issue, it’s critical to reach out to a professional for further guidance.

Solstice is here for your daughter

Solstice is a groundbreaking residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18. Our girls often grapple with depression, anxiety, trauma, chronic stress in teens, ADHD, and other emotional or behavioral problems when they come to us. Dealing with these issues can get confusing and overwhelming fast–but we’re here to help guide you.

Through a unique combination of therapeutic programs based upon both traditional and holistic mental health treatment, we treat our clients with age and gender specific techniques. We strive to empower teenage women with the ability to believe in themselves and provide the tools and motivation required to instill these beliefs for life.

For more information about how we help treat chronic stress in teens at Solstice, please contact us at (866) 278-3345.

transitioning from wilderness programs

Back to School Tips & How We Help Our Students Thrive

Back to School Tips & How We Help Our Students Thrive 5976 3992 Solstice RTC

Transitioning back to school after a lengthy, relaxed, thrilling summer vacation is easy for some students–but for others, it’s painful and often creates unnecessary struggle throughout the rest of the school year.

Especially if your daughter grapples with anxiety or depression, going back to school can be an instigator for those issues. We have some advice that could possibly help in guiding your daughter back into school more smoothly.

Time management & organization are top challenges to going back to school

When girls struggling academically come to us, many of their issues often lay in an inability to manage their time and stay organized. Without these skills, your daughter can easily find herself just two weeks into school already missing assignments left and right, already dealing with an epic amount of anxiety, and already ready to give up.

back to school

Solstice, Layton, Utah, September 8, 2016.

This isn’t necessarily because she’s “lazy” or doesn’t care about school–much of the time it’s because she doesn’t know how to handle these responsibilities correctly.

A critical–yet sometimes tedious–part of time management and organization is maintaining a planner. I know, it sounds too simple and obvious–but most teens don’t keep a planner. When your daughter goes back to school, start off her organization strong.

She needs to write down every assignment, every exam, every thing that pertains to the gradebook. With this, she can make a to-do list easily. She can look at her planner and be reminded exactly when that project she’s already forgotten about is due.

Now, that’s organization, but time management is essential to staying organized. Your daughter can have all of her homework assignments, projects, meetings, and exams written down in her planner, but if she doesn’t know how long they’ll take, it’s hard to know when the best time to complete them is.

We often have our girls actually ask the teacher how long an assignment or project will take them, then they’ll record that along with the date it’s due in their planner. When they don’t do this, many often end up spending much longer than they need to on assignments.

If she can complete something in 15 minutes and get an A, she shouldn’t be spending an hour on it. That’s 45 minutes she could’ve spent getting something else done. By managing her time, she’s able to get things done more quickly and have the time to relax, take a breath, and control her anxiety.

How we help our girls become successful students

Many of our students have learning differences and, for many of them, school has become a place of hardship and anxiety. We help create individual goals and milestones for each individual–because no student is the same.

Our special education program, while nurturing and specific, is also very rigorous. It’s important for parents to know that putting their daughter into treatment doesn’t mean they have to give up their academics. Our girls eventually return to public school, private school, college, or even a job, so it’s critical for us to be able to keep that growth going.

Around 60 percent of our girls score higher on math and science than the national average–this is because our program is built to not only support our students, but also push them so they can reach their full potential.

Solstice is here for your daughter

Solstice is a groundbreaking residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18. Our girls often grapple with depression, anxiety, trauma, ADHD, and other emotional or behavioral problems when they come to us. Dealing with these issues can get confusing and overwhelming fast–but we’re here to help guide you.

Through a unique combination of therapeutic programs based upon both traditional and holistic mental health treatment, we treat our clients with age and gender specific techniques. We strive to empower teenage women with the ability to believe in themselves and provide the tools and motivation required to instill these beliefs for life.

For more information about how we help at Solstice, please contact us at (866) 278-3345.

10-Minutes of Mindfulness Meditation Can Improve Anxiety

10-Minutes of Mindfulness Meditation Can Improve Anxiety 1280 854 Solstice RTC

Anxiety is not uncommon for teenagers. Between friends, exams, homework, extracurriculars, and keeping your GPA up, life can get pretty stressful. Sometimes it gets so stressful that it starts to form unhealthy habits and underlying mental health issues–but studies are showing that there may be something that could help: mindfulness meditation.

I know what you’re thinking, “Meditation is going to fix my child’s anxiety?” No, that’s not what I’m saying. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, making it a good tool to maintain mental health and act as a helper–not the only treatment.

Just 10-minutes of mindfulness meditation could help

The University of Waterloo recently conducted a study that showed how powerful mindfulness meditation can be. With over 80 individuals that struggle with anxiety, the researchers discovered that using mindfulness meditation reduced one of the most common symptoms of anxiety: repetitive, off-task thinking.

mindfulness meditationThe best part? It was only 10-minutes once a day. With just a few minutes out of the day, anxious individuals found improvements in their mind’s tendency to wander and overthink things. For people with anxiety, this can be one of the main things that disrupts their day. While it’s normal for the mind to wander, when it’s almost impossible to make it focus at times, that’s an issue.

Mindfulness meditation isn’t just about sitting in one place for 10-minutes. It’s about taking a moment to pull yourself out of your internal worries and focusing–without judgement–on how you’re feeling now and taking note of what’s around you in the current moment.

One of the researchers, Mengran Xu, discussed why the results are important:

“Our results indicate that mindfulness training may have protective effects on mind wandering for anxious individuals. We also found that meditation practice appears to help anxious people to shift their attention from their own internal worries to the present-moment external world, which enables better focus on a task at hand.”

Mindfulness meditation obviously has a lot of potential in the mental health fields. It’s a tactic that you can use nearly anywhere and almost anyone can master it.

If you believe your daughter is struggling with a mental health issue, it’s critical to reach out to a professional for further guidance.

Solstice is here for your daughter

Solstice is a groundbreaking residential treatment center for girls, ages 14 to 18. Our girls often grapple with depression, issues with bullying, low self-esteem, anxiety, trauma, ADHD, and other emotional or behavioral problems when they come to us.

Through a unique combination of therapeutic programs based upon both traditional and holistic mental health treatment, we treat our clients with age and gender specific techniques. We strive to empower teenage women with the ability to believe in themselves and provide the tools and motivation required to instill these beliefs for life.

For more information about how we use mindfulness meditation at Solstice, please contact us at (866) 278-3345.